Ten planning lessons from Winnipeg, Manitoba

Canada's national Museum of Human Rights (opened September 2014)

Canada’s national Museum of Human Rights (opened September 2014)

The following is another post in an ongoing series which highlights ten important planning lessons from various cities around the world. Below are the ten planning lessons I’ve learned from two visits to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – one in 2005 and the other last month during out trip across Canada. Winnipeg is a very enjoyable city and well worth a visit.

  • You do not have to have a dramatic scenic vistas to create a dynamic and vibrant city.
  • On element of amazing architecture can change first and lasting impressions – in Winnipeg’s instance it’s Canada’s National Museum of Human Rights.
  • Great urban centers can and have blossomed amid very cold and challenging climates.
  • Celebrate your community’s uniqueness and don’t try to become something that you are not.
  • Art is an intriguing amenity to a riverfront trail system.
  • A single well-designed pocket park such as Winnipeg’s Chinese Tea Garden (see below) can literally transform the gray drabness of an inner city into a floral cavalcade of brilliant colors.
  • Railroad travel brings in tourists who in turn bring in dollars to spend at area attractions.
  • A bus rapid transit system can be quite cool.
  • Merging multiple municipalities into one metropolitan jurisdiction can create a single identity and build a brand.
  • A catchy and memorable moniker such as “The Peg” never hurts.
Chinese Garden in Winnipeg

Chinese Garden in Winnipeg


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The “real” snowbirds

Source: allaboutbirds.org

Source: allaboutbirds.org

Each autumn and winter millions of northerners across North America make the pilgrimage to points south, primarily Florida and Arizona, to escape the snow and cold. Similarly, flocks of birds migrate southward for the winter from their summer nesting grounds.

One species of bird that migrates is particularly hardy. It doesn’t fly south from the Arctic tundra to Florida, the Caribbean, or Latin America. Instead, the Dark-eyed Junco flies from its chilly summer nests to the not-so-balmy winters of Michigan, Ontario, and surrounding regions. Sure, some will travel further south, but it’s the brave ones that hang around here that impress me. Just this week, they arrived here in Mid-Michigan for there six month “retreat” from polar cold.

I find this little birds quite amazing. It’s not like they are blessed with loads of extra fluffy feathers, but they still manage to survive year after year with temperatures rarely rising above “warm” in their summer habitat and more often downright cold.

If you happen to notice small, gray birds on the ground below your feeder, or see their gray and white tail-feathers flitter away as you approach on a trail, smile and remember how the hard Dark-eyed Junco is one of our best gifts from nature each winter. Cheers!

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Ten planning lessons from Victoria, British Columbia


Provincial capitol

My wife and I had the great pleasure of visiting gorgeous Victoria, British Columbia for five days last month. After some time for reflection, here is my list of ten planning lessons learned from this magnificent city. If there ever were a clear example of a livable city, in North America, Victoria is certainly it.

The e planning lessons are presented in no particular order of importance.

  • A city focused on its waterfront and on waterborne transportation (water taxis, ferries, seaplanes, etc.) can be very intoxicating and vibrant.
  • Linking nature and outdoor recreational opportunities such as kayaking and bicycling with the urban environment is a tremendous way to enhance (as well as explore) a city.
  • Swanky food establishments and prototypical chains never reflect the gastronomical heart and soul of a city like its eccentric local hangouts – Red Fish, Blue Fish on Victoria’s Wharf, for example, takes exceptional dining to a whole new level of uniqueness.
  • Cherish/preserve your local history, including natural and built, as well as Native and immigrant.
  • Blending many diverse cultures is an amazing economic development and tourism tool.
  • You don’t need to chop up a city with ugly freeways.
  • Great architecture and urban design always (ALWAYS) trumps utilitarianism.
  • A stratospheric skyline is not necessary to make a city dynamic, cool, exciting, and hip.
  • Even the most scarred terrain (limestone quarries in this case) can be transformed into beautiful amenities with time and tender loving care.
One of many water taxis scurrying about Victoria's harbour

One of many water taxis scurrying about Victoria’s harbour

Red Fish, Blue Fish on Victoria's wharf

Red Fish, Blue Fish on Victoria’s wharf


Harbour scene at dusk

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Geography of advanced degrees in the USA (2013)

This fascinating chart from newgeography.com depicts those large metropolitan areas in the United States with the highest percentage of advanced degrees (masters or Ph.D) in 2013. Of particular interest in the growth in many Northern and Western cities and the corresponding drop in the Southern parts of the country.

The largest increases took place in Indianapolis and Providence (+15 places each), Cleveland (+12 places), Sacramento (+10 places), and Kansas City (+9 places). Meanwhile the largest decreases occurred in Atlanta, Nashville and Tampa (-12 places each) and Austin and San Diego (-9 places each).

Source: newgeography.com

Source: newgeography.com

Posted in aerospace, Alternative energy, Alternative transportation, architecture, aviation, cities, colleges, economic development, economic gardening, economics, Economy, education, entrepreneurship, environment, geography, Health care, infrastructure, North America, planning, Renewable Energy, Statistics, technology, urban planning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scaling 8,144 foot Green Mountain in Boulder, Colorado

Enjoying the view from atop Green Mountain

Enjoying the view from atop beautiful Green Mountain

Last Saturday (October 11th), just 12 hours after arriving from Michigan, we undertook an arduous hike to the top of Green Mountain, Colorado. The weather forecast was poor for Sunday, so Saturday was our best opportunity to enjoy the splendid beauty of Colorado.

Source: www.protrails.com/trail

Green Mountain – Source: http://www.protrails.com/trail

At 8,144 feet, Green Mountain is a majestic peak located just southwest of Boulder. It offers stunning views of the Great Plains to the east, Denver to the Southeast, the Rocky Mountains to the west, and of Boulder to the northeast which are hard to beat (see photos). A brass plate topographical guide of the Rockies is provided on top of the cairn to reward those who complete the climb.

All told, the trip took three hours to scale the peak from Chautauqua National Historic Landmark, following the Baseline, Gregory Canyon, and Ranger Trails and then another three hours carefully climbing back down the Greenman, Saddle Rock, and Amphitheater Trails through rugged terrain, areas washed out by flooding in 2013, and past numerous piles of black bear scat.  The total elevation change our six-hour hike was approximately 5,600 feet.

Here are a few photos of the journey. Enjoy!


The Flatirons from along the Baseline Trail



A view of Boulder



The Rockies


Brass plate geographical guide on top of the cairn at the peak of Green Mountain

Brass plate topographical guide on top of the cairn at the peak of Green Mountain

A rain shower on the plains

A rain shower on the plains

Heading back down

Heading back down

Scaling a washout from the 2013 floods

Scaling a washout from the 2013 floods

Within the amphitheater

Within the amphitheater

Another view

Another rocky view

Back at Chautauqua

Back at Chautauqua at dusk


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Cities with all the vowels

Source: tourdeprofit.com

Source: tourdeprofit.com

Here’s my list of cities whose name contains all five of the vowels (a, e, i, o, u) in the Latin/Roman alphabet. A couple of interesting findings among the list:

  • The majority of city names with all the vowels consist of multiple words.
  • Six cities were found to contain all five vowels in a one word name – these are highlighted in bold.
  • If you included “y” as a vowel, only three of the cities on the list would remain (two are located in France and one in Saudi Arabia. These are shown in italics.
  • City names with “Mountain” included in it appears to have the best chance of including all five vowels in the USA – four such cities are listed.
  • The largest cities whose name contains all five vowels are both Spanish in origin: Ciudad de Mexico (Mexico City), Mexico and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Any additions are most welcome, but please limit them to cities of at least 10,000 residents. Cheers!

  • Ain Oussera, Algeria
  • Ain Temouchent, Algeria
  • Alexandroupoli, Greece
  • Apache Junction, AZ, USA
  • Baie-Comeau, QC, Canada
  • Berrouaghia, Algeria
  • Boulogne-Billancourt, France
  • Boumhelel-Bassatine, Tunisia
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Castro-Urdiales,aspain
  • Ciudad Madero, Mexico
  • Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico
  • Cote-Saint-Luc, QC, Canada
  • Dogubeyazit, Turkey
  • Donaueschingen, Germany
  • Essaouira, Morocco
  • Fountenay-sous-Bois, France
  • Guidonia Montecelio, Italy
  • Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, USA
  • Huntington Beach, CA USA
  • Inezgane Ait Melloul, Morocco
  • Issy-les-Moulineaux, France
  • King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia
  • Mediouna, Morocco
  • Menzel Bourguiba, Tunisia
  • Modiin-Maccabinn-Reut, Israel
  • Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil
  • Mountain Grove, MO, USA
  • Mountain Home, AR and ID, USA
  • Mountain View, CA, USA
  • Oued Zenati, Algeria
  • Pedro Aguirre Cerda, Chile
  • Port-au-Prince, Haiti
  • Port Saint Lucie, FL, USA
  • Runeil-Malmaison, France
  • Quince Orchard, MD, USA
  • Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, QC, Canada
  • Saint-Laurentidu-Maroni, France
  • Saint-Maur-des-Fosses, France
  • Six-Fours-les-Plages, France
  • South Padre Island, TX, USA
  • Stone Mountain, GA, USA
  • Sunrise Manor, NV, USA
  • Upper Arlington, OH, USA
  • Washington Court House, OH, USA
  • West Columbia, SC, USA
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Bangkok to join the 2,000 foot skyscraper club

Source: newsobserver.com

Source: newsobserver.com

Bangkok is about to join the mega-skyscraper club with a 125 story, 2018 foot tall tower planned for completion in 2019.



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